Friday, August 13, 2010

More Transitions and Dawn Communicates

Dawn and I had a short work session this morning - it was already hot and steamy. We worked on transitions, walk/trot/walk and walk/halt/walk - our main goal was to work on staying soft through the transitions - both of us. I also worked on my focus to help make the transitions smoother and more precise - think the new rhythm, breathe out and transition immediately and smoothly, up or down, without a gap. In the process, we confirmed our softening work at the trot - it's pretty solid - and also threw in some backing, which is getting better every day. The work went well, with substantial progress on not bracing through the transitions and making them precise and flowing. Dawn was pretty forward this morning after having been in a good part of yesterday due to the heat. At some points in trot she wanted to push and rush, but came back pretty easily - I need to remember to make use of circles to help her rebalance and not rush.

Then, before we both got wringing wet, we took a little jaunt up the trail about 100 yards, and started working on the "just standing around" exercise I like to use for building patience and calmness. We would walk 20 yards or so and then halt on a loose rein. After standing still for a few seconds - this is about all Dawn can do and the objective is for her to stand willingly rather than for me to hold her there, and we'll increase the time standing as she's able - we'd move on to another spot and repeat. We did this both going away from the barn and coming back. Dawn is very interactive and asks questions and expresses opinions - when we halted on the trail, she would turn her head slightly and look back at me: "you want me to stand still? on the trail?".

At lunchtime, I went to check on the horses due to the heat. The mares were in the far pasture, and only looked up briefly when I called to them. It was pretty clear that they wanted to stay out despite the heat - they remembered having come in early yesterday. So I turned around and walked back in. Just as I got to the gate nearest the barn, Dawn came trotting up behind me. She went up to the water tank and took a big drink. She was somewhat sweaty, so I thought she wanted in. I was holding the halter in my hand waiting for her to finish drinking. She lifted her head, I took a step towards her with the halter, and she spun in place and galloped back to the pasture! She's never hard to catch when I want to catch her, so I was happy enough to accept her opinion of things on this occasion.


  1. I like the training exercise of having Dawn wait for a time on the trail to teach patience. I'm going to have to try this with Dusty when she's able to be ridden again.

  2. Sounds like Dawn makes things pretty clear both under saddle and on the ground!

  3. I really appreciate it when my horses express their opinions to me--whether I agree with them or not. I take is as a sign of flattery that they actually accept that I will understand what they are telling me.

    I think this proves that Dawn is now relating to you much better than she ever did before.

  4. That waiting part is a hard one for a lot of horses, including Poco. He gets very impatient."If you're on my back, we're on the move, woman! We'll stand around after you take this tack off me."

    I'm liking this heat as a "training tool" for my opinionated pony.

    WV = hooton
    There'll be lots of hooton and hollerin when I finally can canter.

  5. My guy is off the track and one of the first things we did was learn to stand while mounting, stand AFTER mounting, and THEN ... just stand.

    I also like a horse that communicates with me, but in reality, they all DO tell their riders things. The key is having a rider who LISTENS ;o) Obviously we are "horse listeners" ;o) Just as important as whispering, imho.

  6. Sounds like your work on softening is going really well. Inspiring!

  7. Great ride Kate! I too do the go a bit down the trail and wait. Some days I'm happy that I got a clear halt!

  8. I have to say that Corrie has a great stand. She will stand there calmly until I ask her to do something else. Great thing for a horse to know.

    I love the story about Dawn and the halter. They really know how to say what they really want sometimes don't they?

  9. That was a little flirty of Dawn!!


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